This week, it was discovered that a couple in California had 13 children they were basically holding captive and starving them. Some were chained to furniture. They ranged in age from 2 to 29.
1. What value did these parents seem to place on their children?
2. What value do those (The parents as well as the medical personal) who abort a pregnancy seem to place on an unborn child?
I want to insert this fact early on: God forgives all sin except blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, including abortion. Many people, on both sides of this issue, demonstrate in an ungodly way at times, neither is justified by their actions.
Our lives are constantly bombarded with images of people. Imagine, for a moment, you have before you an image of Hitler and Mother Teresa.
3. How do we respond to these images?
4. Are certain images more difficult to accept than others?
5. What do our responses to an image of a person reveal about who we value and why?
6. Are there certain groups of individuals that seem harder to value than others?
7. How does God view all people, including Hitler and Mother Teresa? (The same: they are all precious to Him and He sent Jesus to die for each one.)
As we focus on the value of human life, we will examine passages from the Old and New Testaments. First, we will examine Acts 16:16-19 and then Psalm 139:13-16. Both passages reveal that a person’s life, which is created in God’s image, is precious and to be valued. All people are to be treated with respect, and considered valuable in God’s sight.
Freedom Gained! Read Acts 16:16-18
1. What was Paul’s view of the slave girl?
2. Why was she becoming a problem for Paul? (Perhaps the people who would like to hear what Paul had to say were distracted by her or even failed to come hear Paul because of her constant, loud proclamations.)
3. Why did Paul cast the demon out of the girl? (Was it because she was a distraction to what they were trying to accomplish among the people or because he had compassion for the girl?)
4. Was the proclamation made by the girl true? (Yes, but your background would influence its interpretation. Here claims were ambiguous enough to be open to different interpretations. Salvation could have been physical deliverance. The Most High God, for those Greeks, was a reference to Zeus. So her proclamations were not necessarily understood to be about Yahweh!)
5. How would you describe the difference between Paul’s view of the slave girl and the owners’ views of her?
6. How would you define the motives of each in how they related to her? (Her owners were interested only in what they could gain from her as a “fortune teller”. Paul perhaps had in mind freeing the girl from this demon and keeping her quiet as he preached.)
7. What kind of freedom did the slave girl receive? (Although the girl was a physical slave, she received spiritual freedom when Paul commanded the spirit to leave her.)
Only the name of Jesus has the power to deliver someone from demon possession! When we look at the physical hardships of other people, we need to remember the reality of spiritual bondage prompts us to share the good news that Jesus died to set us free from sin and death.
There are other places in the New Testament where evil spirits were cast out of an individual. Let’s look at two of them.
Read Mark 1:23-26—Demon possessed man in the synagogue.
Read Mark 5:13—The Gadarean Demoniac!
The Complaint! Read Acts 16:19
When the owners realized their hope of profit from her was gone, they became angry at Paul and Silas. They were taken by force to the authorities and false charges were brought against them.
The young girl’s owners had little regard for what might be best for her, and thought only of the potential profit they had lost. They were blind to the power of Christ and the value of each person, seeing only their own self-interest.
1. How might someone try to justify the response of the owners? (At least they kept her from having to survive by begging on the streets. At least she had a place to sleep and food to eat.)
2. How do people use the same justification today for devaluing human life?
3. What parallels would you make between the slave girl and modern day human trafficking? (In both instances, the captive person is considered personal property that serves the owner. While a slave girl was used as a fortune teller, human trafficking has a much darker purpose. The principle behind both activities involves seeing people as commodities rather than human beings who need help.)
The gospel compels us to reach out to people who are disregarded by society as well as those who devalue them!
In Psalm 139 David celebrated the wonder of creation and the value of each person. From the moment of conception God is at work in each person’s life!
Valued By God! Read Palm 139:13-16
1. How does the analogy of the weaver and the “mother’s womb” illustrate to you God’s creation? (It is a “master piece” in the making. Particular attention is paid to every stitch to make sure it is exactly the way the weaver wants it!)
2. Why is it so difficult to comprehend how remarkable all human life is? (Even with all of the scientific research that has been done on the human body, new discoveries are being made!)
David was light years ahead of his time in the statements he makes about the development in the womb. It had to be God’s revelation to him.
3. Why is life considered valuable based upon the Bible? (Psalm 139 teaches us that we are created and made by God in our mother’s womb. He knows everything about us because He made us.)
We are made in God’s image, so we are valuable in His eyes. Since the fall in the Garden of Eden, man has been under the curse of sin. Yet, Jesus came to die for our sins and redeem us from the curse.
Read Jeremiah 1:4-5.
4. What does this passage teach about the value of human life?
Read Job 10:8-12
5. How did Jeremiah, Job and David know how the body is made? (Only by God’s revelation.)
6. How do the images shared in these verses support the analogy of the weaver’s creation of a one-of-a-kind masterpiece?
7. What does it mean that God has numbered all of our days?
8. How does that affect the way you view and value your time on earth? (God knew the amount of time each of us would spend on this earth before He created us. We are responsible for productive use of that time for His glory!)
These passages in the Old and New Testaments all reveal the value of all human life. Let’s consider how these passages relate to our lives today!
Summarize and Challenge!
1. Do you think it is true that society will tolerate Christians until their actions impact their pocketbook? (When that happens, Christian views are seen as a threat and painted as a problem, regardless of the truth. Christian beliefs are then seen as archaic and irrelevant for today!
2. How do the words of the psalmist relate to the slave girl freed from the demon by Paul?
3. How does our understanding of both passages impact our treatment of all people from conception to death?
4. How can we be active in our community to be an advocate for people who can’t help themselves?
God is the creator of life, therefore all life is sacred! Pray that we will be sensitive to those who are mistreated and be willing to take a stand to protect them from abuse. At the same time we need to be in prayer for those who kill unborn children or mistreat others in some way.
Pray for the workers and volunteers at our local crisis pregnancy center for the ministry they provide in our community!